Category archives: handmade

Meet talented Hattie, from a ballerina to a sculptor. Now she is a self taught hand crafted jewelry designer in Kennett Square.

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What did you do before you start jewelry design?

When I was 4 years old I began intensive training in ballet. I was pigeon-toed and the doctor advised my mother that ballet would help straighten my legs. I quickly ended up taking 10 classes a week and when I was 14, I was accepted into The School of American Ballet at Juilliard in New York City. After that, I was a principal ballerina with the Brandywine Ballet Company for 9 years and, later, danced with Opus 1 Contemporary of Philadelphia as well as guest performed with many theatres and other dance companies. I began teaching ballet in 2001 and only recently have had to cut back to one day a week as it’s all my growing jewelry schedule will allow. In my early twenties, I also modeled as a ballerina for a sculpture class and found myself eager to learn how to sculpt. I took a class and began sculpting, later exhibiting my bronze dancers locally in galleries and art exhibits.

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What lead you to beginning to work with jewelry?

In 2006, I stopped dancing professionally and began my family. I enjoyed sculpture but it was expensive to have bronzed. But, without dance or sculpture, I found I still needed an artistic outlet. I picked up an instructional book on beading and wirewrapping at a local craft store and that night I think I made 30 pairs of earrings. I was hooked.

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Where do you find your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from everything around me. I love to garden and often am inspired by nature and its beauty and movement. I am currently fascinated with ancient Egyptian artifacts and patinas. I typically don’t sketch out or plan my designs. I have a general idea or inspiration, start grabbing materials and get to work.

 

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Who do you envision wearing your work? Do you think about this when you work on designs?

I strive to make jewelry that people want to wear. I try to make a variety that appeals to all ages and styles. I believe it is important to learn as many techniques as you can but that doesn’t mean you need to pull out all the stops in every single creation. I often find that the pieces people find the most appealing are the simplest.

 

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The most meaningful piece of jewelry you own is?

My favorite piece is my ‘Wrapped in Lavender Cuff’. It was the most technically challenging piece I have ever made and, because of that, the most rewarding. It was a lengthy process but when I finished it, I remember feeling proud of myself.

 

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Do you have a favorite jewelry designer that you admire?

I admire so many artists but I guess you could say my idol is jewelry artist, Jeanine Payer. She has recently closed her studio doors but I was fortunate to have been given a couple of her pieces and absolutely fell in love with the simplicity and feminine quality of her work. It remains an inspiration to me.

 

Check Hattie’s work here: Hattie Weselyk Jewelry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Lauren, she is a Traditional Western Herbalist and founder of Areté herbs. I visited her lovely studio the other day. I really like her natural  and healthy life style.

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Where does the name Areté come from and what does it mean? 

Areté is a Greek word that means “excellence of any kind.” Areté describes the act of living up to one’s fullest potential, finding total fulfillment, and reaching the highest level of health and harmony for our mind, body, and spirit. Areté is a Stoic Philosophy term and I thought it embodied exactly what I was going for.

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What did you do before you started Areté Herbs? 
I was in school for most of my life up until the launch of my business! I am what they would call a 
“professional student.” I love to learn and went from undergraduate school to graduate school to my 
intensive herbalist training program, back to back.
I hold a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition, and a Master of Public Health 
(MPH) Degree concentrating in Integrative Health. In addition, I am certified as an Integrative Health 
Coach, and a certified Herbalist. I am also certified through the American College of Sports Medicine as 
an Exercise Physiologist (ACSM‐EP), and through the National Commission for Health Education 
Credentialing as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). 
I have been employed as a Health Coach for The Chester County Hospital near Philadelphia, 
Pennsylvania, and as an Exercise Physiologist for the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart 
Disease at Jefferson Regional Medical Center located near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
I was also honored to be a guest speaker at the 2010 annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Public Health 
Association (PPHA) held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I presented a lecture entitled, “The Integrative 
Health Coach: A New Advocate for Health Promotion.”

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Why and how did you start Areté Herbs? 
My passion for plants, healing, and nature arose after several years of studying wellness, health and 
fitness. Despite my academic studies, I felt that a vital link was absent from the “complete” picture‐‐
there had to be more to health than just exercise and nutrition. Upon studying the ancient healing 
tradition of botanical medicine, I had found the piece that was missing.
Our health is deeply connected to nature. Living in harmony with the natural rhythms of the Earth and 
reconnecting with our inner wisdom is the essence of living a fulfilling, authentic, and purposeful
life.  Our health is so much more than just the absence of disease.

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What’s your philosophy about herbal medicine? 
Areté Herbs is a company dedicated to helping each individual achieve optimal health with plant‐based 
products.  At Areté, we believe that personal health is deeply connected to nature. To attain optimal 
wellness it is vital to embrace a more natural, earth‐centered approach to living fuller, healthier lives. 
 Plant medicine is a beautiful way to empower you on this journey.
We are a young, homegrown business that lovingly handcrafts all herbal products in small batches. We 
are wholly dedicated to organics, sustainability, and green business practices because of our great 
reverence for the environment. We promise to use only organic herbs to create our formulas.
Our herbs are sourced from only the most highly regarded companies that provide certified organically 
grown plants. Respectfully wild‐harvested herbs are often hand‐gathered by ourselves from rural 
Chester County, or grown in our personal garden that is free of pesticides, chemicals, and genetically
modified organisms (GMOs).
It is our hope that Areté’s herbal products give you the opportunity to infuse yourself in the medicine of
the plants.
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Can you recommend one herb that is easy to use and grow? 
I’ll name a handful! I had the best luck growing Sage, Catnip, Thyme, and Lemon Balm. These herbs 
seem to need hardly any attention at all and grew into huge, beautiful plants all by themselves. 
A lot of medicinal plants are considered common weeds and can be found in your own yard or woods 
behind your house! There is no need to plant an herbal garden if you learn to identify these common 
medicinal weeds. They grow on their own and very plentifully! Some include: Plantain, Chickweed, 
Dandelion, and Nettles to name a few! These are all considered tonic herbs. 
Dandelion, Chickweed, and Plantain can all be found in your lawn! Dandelion is great for digestion and 
liver function and is a key component of ourCardamom & Fennel Digestive Bitters. It is also found in our 
Immune Chai Tea, Nourish Tea, and Mommy‐To‐Be Tea.
Plantain can be made into a poultice to draw out a splinter or bee sting—great for summer first aid!
Chickweed is a Nutritive (very nutritious!) and is one of my favorite herbs. It tastes so yummy that you 
can add it to salads or even make a pesto from it!
It is also one of the herbs found in our Nourish Tea and our Mommy-To-Be Tea.
Stinging Nettles are found along rivers where the ground is moist. You can find them along the 
Brandywine River! The fresh plant is great for seasonal allergies, is a powerhouse of vitamins and 
minerals, and supports the adrenals to combat stress. We use it in our Allergy Formula, Nourish Tea,
Stress Free Tea, and Mommy‐To‐Be Tea.
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I knew Bri through Instagram. I have been followed her on Instagram long time. She is the designer-maker and owner of Arden and James. I love her beautiful  handcrafted bags. Finally I had a chance to do a photo shoot with her. I arrived her house, her younger son was sleeping, and the older boy was tired but won’t take a nap. He stayed with us whole time, during the photo shoot I saw how she balanced her work with kids. Her studio is stylish, bright and organized. She showed me her new work, and also the first bag she made. She is such a talented artist and wonderful mom.

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Where did the name Arden & James come from?
 
Arden is a little utopian arts community in Delaware. It was designed to demonstrate the values of the Arts + Crafts movement at the turn of the century. Many artists, musicians, actors, and craftsmen live there. There are walking paths through the woods connecting all of the homes and shared community facilities. Such a dream. They have an annual Arden Fair, which is in its 108th year.  As a kid, my grandparents’ house was closeby, and we would go to the Fair. It’s a magical place, and it has inspired me all my life.
 
James is my older son. I started the company when he was old enough to sit on his own and I got my hands back :). My husband is also a James. He is an artist as well – a musician.
 
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What is your design process?
The materials themselves drive my process.  I only use materials I love: organic woven linen, locally milled waxed canvas, vegetable tanned leather, and pure copper.  I see a natural material that inspires me and then decide what I can make that would highlight its best qualities. It’s sort of a backwards design process – not how I was trained in design school! I think that good design allows the materials to be themselves.
I love getting feedback from customers and friends. When designing something as personal as a handbag, I have to know how people will use it. I want my bags to be a reliable wardrobe staple and hopefully an heirloom, so the details need to be just right.
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What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?
 
Wharton Esherick. He was a sculptor and painter who resided in Paoli. His home and workshop are open to the public, and they are an endless source of inspiration for me. I hope to shoot my Fall lookbook there this year. It’s funny, but when I make something,  I ask myself – would this look good at Wharton’s house? It’s a “handcrafted modern” look. His work has no straight lines. It is informed by the materials and has a perfect organic feel. It’s just too good to put into words – you gotta see it.
What would you most like to make that you haven’t made so far?
Clothing. My sister, Britt, is amazing with styling, colors, and patterns – so it would be a collaborative line where I could choose the materials. My dream is to work with her every day (and our dogs and kids).
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How did your parents influence your career?
 
My parents always wanted us to do what made us happy. Just to be our true selves. My Dad was always working with wood, and my mom was a painter. My mom always said that I was an artist, and wanted me to pursue art as my career, but I never believed in myself enough to think that I could pull it off. After getting my degree in Industrial Design, I apprenticed for other artists, worked in food marketing, and organized community events to earn money. It wasn’t until after my mom passed away – five years ago – and I was pregnant with my first son, that I felt the drive to make things. I could feel my mom’s confidence in me pushing me along. Since then I am always inspired and can’t wait to make more. I feel that my mom is sending these things to me so that I can live my dream. Everything falls into place as long as I focus and do my best. People have responded so passionately to my work – and it’s so flattering – because it’s me being completely honest and putting my true self out there. My work is a reflection of me, and the relationships I have built from that are so authentic and rewarding.
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You are busy mom for two boys, how do you balance your work and kids?
The balance day-to-day is so hard, but overall, things work out. I am always going from one thing to the next, running around like a crazy person. But that’s how I work best. I am at home with the boys, so my attention has to be on them first. My boys are 2 and 4, so we don’t have any schedule – I just work in my home workshop when I can – mostly in 10 minute bursts throughout the day (on a good day). I use my iPhone for everything. I am never able to sit at the computer. The boys would be jumping all over me! I plan my work so that I can do handwork such as weaving in the car (while James is driving :)) or outside with the kids while they play. When the kids are both in school things will be easier. I had never imagined my business would grow so quickly – but I’m so proud that it has! The challenge keeps growing, but I’m still hanging in there!
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 To learn more about Bri and her work go to the website:Arden and James